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Ghana
and Nigeria, since independence respectively 1957 and 1960, have witnessed
transition from military dictatorship to democratic regimes in the 1990s and
have embarked upon the path towards consolidation of democracy with two
different tendencies. Ghana’s government has maintain a moderately good record
in the process of consolidating democracy, whereas Nigeria seems to be
struggling in an unstable regime. According to the democracy index 2016 (The Economist)
Ghana is considered a flawed democracy with fair and free elections and basic
civil liberties, while Nigeria a hybrid regime with irregularities in elections
that prevents them from being fair and free. With the almost the same colonial
and historical background why do we have two different tendencies in the
development and consolidation of democracy? Comparing the different settings,
reasons, strategies, procedures, and implementation of democratization efforts
in these two countries, we are able to find out the reasons of this problem.

One
possible answer can be economic development. The level of economic development
measured by the per capita income is the best predictor of political regimes,
the more wealthy country the higher the probability in developing a democracy. The
reason is that economic development shifts the balance of class power, by
weaking the power of the landlord class and strengthening the subordinated
classes. (1) If we compare Nigeria GDP per capita 2,177.99 USD ?(2016) with Ghana
GDP per capita  1,513.46 USD ?(2016)
there is no doubts that Nigeria economy is higher than Ghana, but if economic
development should help to improve democracy why do Nigeria struggle to
establish democracy in its country?

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Another
possible explanation can derive from Religion. Nigeria has one of the largest
Muslim populations in West Africa, with under 56% of its population being
Muslim, whereas in Ghana 23%. Even though Nigeria is not an Arab country, the
presence of Islamic religion make them similar to Arab state. The continuing
absence of even a single democratic regime in the Arab world is a striking
anomaly – the principal exception to the globalization of democracy. Is it an “Islam”
curse?

In
both countries, there is little doubt that the unintended consequences of each
approach may prove more significant than the direct results of successful
policy implementation. Thus, even if the specific design for democracy may
fail, the democratic project in these West African states may nevertheless be
progressing.

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

Both
Nigeria and Ghana are young states created artificially half a century ago. Their
economical income is based on trade, exchange of raw materials with countries
like United States, China, Europe especially United Kingdom, with who both
countries have special political and economic accords and treats. Over the past
years it has been noticeable a south and south trade union, especially for
Ghana with Brazil one of the largest growing economy in the world. Trade,
however, for both countries’ economies has been their dependence upon foreign
trade; the exchange of primary products for a wide range of imports began long
before there was any political penetration by European powers and continues in
very much the same form in the present time of self-government and
independence.

The
economy of Ghana has a diverse and rich resource base, including the
manufacturing and exportation of digital technology goods, automotive and ship
construction and exportation, and the exportation of diverse and rich resources
such as hydrocarbons and industrial minerals. These have given Ghana one of the
highest GDP per capita in West Africa. Owing to a GDP debasement, in 2011 Ghana
became the fastest growing economy in the world. Gross domestic product (GDP)
growth is estimated to have slowed for the fifth consecutive year, from 3.9% in
2015 to 3.3% in 2016 as a result of the implementation of tight fiscal and
monetary policies in the context of the International Monetary Fund (IMF)
Extended Credit Facility (ECF) program, and technical issues related to oil
production. Growth is projected to recover to 7.1% and 8.0% in 2017 and 2018
respectively assuming restoration of energy supply, new hydrocarbon wells
coming on stream and the timely resolution of technical issues that led to
disruptions in the Jubilee oil and gas field in 2016. The growth is expected to
be stronger if macroeconomic fundamentals improve, and impact positively on the
non-oil economy.

Nigeria
is a middle-income, mixed economy and emerging market, with expanding
manufacturing, financial, service, communications, technology and entertainment
sectors. It is ranked as the 21st-largest economy in the world in terms of
nominal GDP, and the 20th-largest in terms of purchasing power parity. It is
the largest economy in Africa; its re-emergent manufacturing sector became the
largest on the continent in 2013, and it produces a large proportion of goods
and services for the West African subcontinent. In addition, the debt-to-GDP
ratio is 11 percent, which is 8 percent below the 2012 ratio. Although oil
revenues contribute 2/3 of state revenues, oil only contributes about 9% to the
GDP. Nigeria produces only about 2.7% of the world’s oil supply (in comparison,
Saudi Arabia produces 12.9%, Russia produces 12.7% and the United States
produces 8.6%). Although the petroleum sector is important, as government
revenues still heavily rely on this sector, it remains a small part of the
country’s overall economy. However, the country continues to face massive
developmental challenges, which include reducing the dependency on oil and
diversifying the economy, addressing insufficient infrastructure, and building
strong and effective institutions, as well as governance issues, public
financial management systems, human development indicators, and the living
conditions of the population.

RESOURCES CURSE

In
Nigeria the discovery of oil has led to an enormous influx of petro dollars,
which upset the internal price and wage levels and made traditional commercial
pursuits (especially export crops) uncompetitive. As the oil wealth was far
from evenly distributed or invested productively and, moreover, served to fuel
a bitter civil war, it did not materially improve the standard of living in the
country for the vast majority of Nigerians.

Inequality
in terms of income and opportunities has been growing rapidly, and has
adversely affected poverty reduction. The North-South divide has widened in
recent years due to the Boko Haram insurgency and a lack of economic
development in the northern part of the country. Large pockets of Nigeria’s
population still live in poverty, without adequate access to basic services,
and could benefit from more inclusive development policies. The lack of job
opportunities is at the core of the high poverty levels, of regional
inequality, and of social and political unrest in the country. The World
Development Indicators of the World Bank concerning the Federal Republic of
Nigeria certify that with its approximately 180 million inhabitants the
federation of 36 West African states is the most populous state on the
continent and – starting from 2014, following the revision of the method of
calculating GDP – now also the first economy surpassing South Africa. A land
rich in raw materials and reality among the most privileged in a continent,
however, often the victim of the “resource curse”. Nigeria can be
seen as a prime example of the “resource curse”, a phenomenon where natural
resource wealth leads to poor economic growth and development and an increased
likelihood for civil conflict. Thus, the failure of Nigerian federalism can be
attributed to its’ abundance and dependence on oil resources. While oil
resources are not themselves a sufficient explanation of Nigeria’s ethnic
conflict, they have hindered the practice of ‘true’ federalism and have posed a
significant challenge to democratic transition. The existence of natural
resources creates strong separatist incentives as well. Resource rich regions
desire to secede from the nation in order to reap greater benefits from their
resources. The desire to secede is also connected to grievances associated with
lack of socioeconomic development and inequitable income distribution. Since
most of the nation’s income resides in these resource-endowed regions,
secessionist movement are confronted with military violence and repression as
the state fights to retain its most productive regions

The
discovery of black gold in 1956 by Shell and BP itself in the state of Bayelsa
– most of which is easy refining and excellent quality, known as Bonny Light
and much “appreciated” by Western refineries – has made the Delta of
Niger a strategic area at a global level and the city of Port Harcourt is the
main oil hub of the country. While only recently has it been announced the
start of oil extraction also off the Nigerian economic capital Lagos,
megalopolis with more than 16 million inhabitants and the seventh largest city
in the world for the speed of population growth.

The
extraction of natural gas is also important, of which Nigeria has the richest
deposits on the continent. In 2015 – again according to data from the BP
yearbook – the country is in seventeenth position at a global level, with a
production of 50 billion cubic meters. All other minerals such as tin, coal,
iron, zinc, lead, gold and uranium are added to oil and gas, contributing to
the Nigerian economy and wealth. Without forgetting that there are many other
untapped mining resources. Nigeria emerges as the future economic giant of the
continent, but still affected by serious problems of political stability and
internal poverty. The growth of the Nigerian economy is estimated at 6.6 percent
in 2013, more than twice that of South Africa.

GDP
has risen by an average of 7 percent over the past decade. Oil production
remains the strongest economic sector: Nigeria is the first producer in Africa
with a daily production of 2.4 million barrels. The other sectors are also
growing: trade, agriculture and telecommunications (120 million mobile phone
subscribers are expected by the end of 2013).

Beyond
the collapse in the price of oil and production, there remains the problem of
subtracted oil, for which the Nigerian government accuses the international oil
companies. The biggest problem directly concerns the way in which a piece of
the oil extraction and export system works in Nigeria: oil is not quantified in
oil wells, where it is mined, but only at the export terminal, from where it
goes to be transferred to the United States and China for example. The result
is that if 100 barrels of oil are extracted but the oil company that has the
concession to exploit it says that only 80 have arrived at the terminal, there
are 20 that are not paid. The Nigerian government says it has measured this
shortcoming by comparing the amount declared by the companies to the terminals
for export with that arrived at the ports of destination.

In
the meantime, in Nigeria, we are talking about approving a law parked in
Parliament for years, which concerns the reorganization of the national oil
sector and that should, among other things, change the way in which crude is
measured.

But
economic progress is still not felt on a large part of the population.
Unemployment rose to 23.9 percent and the rate of poverty rose: in 2010 60
percent of Nigerians lived on less than a dollar a day, a year later this ratio
rose to 61 percent. The main cause is corruption of the ruling class:
infrastructure (water resources, sewage system and roads) remain those of a
third world state and the overall level of education is “very poor”,
although the level of literacy for young people aged between 15 and 24 rose
from 64 percent in 2000 to 72 percent in 2010. According to OECD figures,
neonatal, maternal and child mortality rates are still very high.

Experts
who have always denounced the poor quality and reliability of the economic
surveys of almost all the countries of sub-Saharan Africa. This is because in
many states of the area there is still no official accounting or qualified
staff to produce it, in others the surveys are aperiodic and now dated.

This
is the case of Nigeria, where the latest estimate of GDP, equal to 292 billion
dollars, referred to a statistical survey carried out in the distant 1990s,
therefore a widely underestimated data that did not take into account the
improvements made in recent years, nor the development of new sectors, such as
ICT, never included in the overall calculation.

For
this reason, the central government of Abuja decided that the National
Statistical Office should update the procedure for determining its Gross
Domestic Product (GDP), adopting new methods of calculation and adequate benchmarks.

The
recalculation of the Nigerian GDP brought the values ??to an increase close to
60% of the previous one, equal to 453 billion dollars in 2012, far above the
354 billion dollars of Pretoria. While for 2013, the new estimates indicate a
GDP still growing at 510 billion dollars against the 370 billion of South
Africa, which has thus lost the economic supremacy on the African continent.

The
rebasing also corrected upward per capita income from $ 1,555 to $ 2,668,
turning the Nigerian economy into a middle-income economy and reducing public
debt from 18%, in 2012, to 13% of GDP.

In
particular, the sectors that show the biggest upward revisions range from the
film industry to new information and telecommunications technologies; while
agriculture has shrunk from around 40% to less than 30% of GDP.

Many
analysts agree that it should not come as a surprise that Nigeria has become
the main African economy. The overall investment regime in Ghana lacks market
transparency. Tackling these issues will be necessary if Ghana’s rapid economic
growth is to be maintained. Property rights are recognized and enforced, but
the process for obtaining clear title to land is often difficult, complicated,
and lengthy. Scarce resources compromise and delay the judicial process, and
poorly paid judges are tempted by bribes. Political corruption continues to be
a problem despite robust legal and institutional frameworks to combat it,
active media coverage, and the government’s willingness to investigate major
scandals.

 The judicial system of Ghana deals with
corruption, economic malpractice and lack of economic transparency. Despite
significant economic progress, obstacles do remain. Particular institutions
need reform, and property rights need improvement.

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